Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Jerez, 2012

Lotus need to bounce back from 2011 slump

2012 F1 season preview

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Lotus, who raced as Renault last year, saw their 2011 campaign derailed by Robert Kubica’s injury and problems with their unconventional car.

They’re making a fresh start this year, with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen leading the team alongside reigning GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.

But Lotus have already made a faltering start to their 2012 campaign, losing four days of testing due to a chassis problem.

Car 9: Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen makes his return to Formula 1 two years on from being dumped by Ferrari. He’s spent the intervening years rallying and dabbling in NASCAR Trucks.

Inevitably there are questions: How will he get on with the new tyres, the Drag Reduction Systems, and doing a complete Grand Prix distance without refuelling?

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Barcelona, 2012
Kimi Raikkonen makes his F1 return in 2012

Will Raikkonen be back at the peak of form that made him a championship contender from 2003 to 2007? Or will he be the inconsistent, occasionally anonymous driver who was beaten by Felipe Massa in 2008 and 2009?

However it turns out, Raikkonen’s return gives us something to savour about the season ahead. He boosts F1’s talent roster by giving us a record-breaking sixth world champion on the grid. And I for one can’t wait to see him back in action at Spa.

Car 10: Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean’s F1 debut in 2009 was a classic case of too much, too soon.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Barcelona, 2012
Romain Grosjean last raced in F1 in 2009

After a confidence-battering seven races alongside Fernando Alonso, Grosjean needed to do the business in GP2 to provide a springboard for an F1 return.

He did so in emphatic style last year, winning the championship with three races to spare, and giving Eric Boullier good reason to opt for him over Bruno Senna or Vitaly Petrov.

Grosjean faces the challenge of partnering a world champion again. But with Raikkonen having spent the last two years out of F1, Grosjean should at least aim to keep him within range in the first half of 2012.

Lotus E20

Lotus were forced to lose almost four days’ worth of running when they discovered a serious problem with their E20 as Grosjean began his first flying lap in Barcelona.

They’re not the only team to have missed out on a full 12 day’s running with their new car – Mercedes are in the same situation. The difference is, Mercedes sacrificed four days’ running with their new car out of choice.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Jerez, 2012
Chassis problems badly disrupted Lotus's testing plans

How badly this will affect Lotus is hard to say – but it certainly is a setback. With testing tightly regulated teams have to make best use of the limited running available.

And it’s not just the testing programme which will have been compromised. Back at the factory, effort which would have been spent on developing the car had to be directed into fixing the suspension problem and strengthening their chassis.

This is bad news for a team which lost it way on car development last year with its radical front-exit exhausts. By the end of 2011 Renault were struggling so badly they almost lost fifth place in the constructors’ championship to Force India.

The E20 has shown a good turn of speed in testing but the team won’t know until Melbourne just how quick it really is – and how much their chassis problem has cost them.

Lotus’s championship form

The Lotus name has now been applied to three different teams: the original Lotus which competed for 1958 to 1994, Tony Fernandes’ operation in 2010 and 2011, and now the Group Lotus-backed team.

1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Championship position 6 4 2 2 2 1 3 1 5 2 1 3 1 5 1 1 4 7 4 2 1 4 5 7 5 8 3 4 3 3 4 6 8 9 5 6 10 10
Wins 0 0 2 3 3 7 3 6 1 4 5 2 6 0 5 7 3 0 1 5 8 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Lotus in 2012: Your view

How do you think Lotus will perform in 2012?

Will Kimi Raikkonen be competitive on his comeback? How will Grosjean fare in his first full season?

Have your say in the comments.

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Images ?? Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Red Bull/Getty images

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “Lotus need to bounce back from 2011 slump”

  1. One team that is pretty certain to improve their championship results from last years surely!

    But I doubt they will be able to pick up on “their” wins tally, even if the car is as fast as their headline grabbing testing times have tried to tell us.

    Maybe it would be nice to try and have points finishes or podiums in the graph as well.

    1. They can improve but I really only see 2 ways this can happen.

      1) They need to hit the road running again, get as many points/podiums in the opening races as possible. Kimi can do this, possibly Grosjean. But once the development race is in full swing, I fear that Mercedes & Ferrari (who appear to be their direct rivals) will out pace them on track and in the R&D race.

      2) They need others to faulter on the track and in the R&D. This will bring some flak my way (but im saying it anyway), but specifically the forementioned Ferrari & Mercedes are key to this. This does link in with the 1st comment, but Lotus dont have the spending power of the 4 teams above them and their own finances don’t appear to be too high or even safe. Throw in a fast Force India (whose also have financial question marks over its owner(s)) and the capability of Torro Rosso & Sauber, its going to be VERY interesting.

  2. So far, the Lotus seems quite good. I’d put it above the Ferrari, at the very least.

    As for Kimi, I’m expecting him to beat Grosjean to a pulp. He’ll maybe get outraced for the first 1/4 of the season or so, but after that…ohohoh.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure… Grosjean is probably a bit underrated as a F1 driver, and Kimi’s past is…in the past. Since the “button will get ripped apart by Lewis” days, I am even more cautious with such assumptions…

  3. I not getting my hopes up for lotus doing well this year but I can’t deny with their testing results being so fast considering Raikkonen has just made the fastest time in testing as I type this comment it will be interesting to see where they end up.

  4. I’ve been racking my brain and the only driver I can think of who was team mate to multiple world champions in his first few seasons was Damon Hill. He was team mate Prost, Senna and then after a few races with DC, Mansell. Not bad company if you can get it.

  5. @keithcollantine : Shouldn’t the Renault championship position be shown instead of the Lotus position from last year? I mean they were not responsible for the result of the other Lotus last year right?

    1. @mahavirshah The graph shows the results for the team called Lotus in each season they competed.

      With teams chopping and changing names with increasing (and irritating) frequency I think there is something to be said for looking at the results of ‘dynasties’ as you suggest. Which, in this case, would mean having a Toleman/Benetton/Renault-2002-to-2011/Lotus 2012-onwards graph. It would need a better title, though…

      However I think the people who are pushing for this approach are doing so as a knee-jerk response to the recent Lotus nonsense and overlooking how it potentially creates more problems than it solves.

      For example, if you extend the practice to Mercedes, do we also include Tyrrell in their legacy, even though all BAR did was buy Tyrrell’s entry off them? And what of the original Mercedes team of the fifties, which was a factory-owned outfit just as today’s is? And were Mercedes also Honda in 2006 to 2008 (but presumably not in 1964-1968)? If so, do both Mercedes and Honda ‘own’ those results?

      I think we’d need some very specific criteria to answer these and similar questions in a consistent and satisfactory way. By the time we come up with one I expect Lotus and Caterham will have changed their names again two or three more times.

      So for the time being I’m sticking with doing it by team name. It’s a pity some teams change their names so often, and that the recent nonsense over the use of Lotus was allowed to happen at all.

      No system is perfect, but I think this one is better than the alternative.

      1. Yeah I agree with you on that it causes a lot of confusion however it does go to show the nature of this sport which has seen teams come and go and yet some team may still be able to trace their ‘lineage’ in a sense to an old team. With Lotus today we have a mixed lineage of the Toleman -Benetton team and the Lotus team. That said Ferrari must be admired for sticking to F1 for 60 or so years now in its original avatar.

      2. toleman fan
        5th March 2012, 21:13

        I’d like to disagree with you here, Keith.

        The issue is not “dynasties”; it is simply, continuity of operation, of organization and of staff roster.

        Toleman/Benetton/Renault/Lotus is pretty self evidently the same team, regardless of what it was called.

        Which is precisely why your text treats last year’s Renault team as the benchmark for Lotus this year, not the current Caterham team. If you look at team-based fan websites, they’ve always renamed themselves and continued otherwise unchanged in just the way I’m suggesting.

        Back at Enstone, the canteen floor had a dirty great “Benetton” logo on it as recently as the mid 2000s when Alonso was winning his championships. People who signed employment contracts with Toleman in Witney to work in F2 in 1980 and never left will be at Enstone now. Neither the in-house French Renault operation of the ’70s and ’80s nor Chapman’s Team Lotus have any operational connection with that team.

        Similarly, Stewart/Jaguar/Red Bull is clearly the same team. Ditto BAR/Honda/Brawn/Mercedes (which pretty obviously has no actual historical relationship with those manufacturers’ prior F1 entries except those imposed by the exigencies of marketing).

        Ditto Jordan/Midland/Spyker/Force India. Ditto Lotus Racing/Team Lotus/Caterham. Ditto Minardi/Toro Rosso.

        The Tyrrell case (a completely different organisation, acquired in order to obtain an existing F1 entry) is the -only- example I can think of where the rule is in doubt or ambiguous. My view is that an all new organisation was established by Reynard, Pollock et al, and that although individual Tyrrell staff transferred, that was not automatic. Certainly little or no collective knowledge or experience seemed to transfer. But I know Phil Huff disagrees, and I’m sure that people employed at Tyrrell can say if they were terminated en masse or transferred automatically to the new outfit. Either way, I don’t see that one genuine ambiguity as fatal to the argument, which personally I’ve been applying consistently since, er, 1986. (duh!)

        Your paragraph about Mercedes seems muddled to me, because it seems to be trying to apply both rules at once, which is not what is being proposed. And 90% of the Lotus confusion seems to me to be the same problem at play – people insisted on calling the Enstone team “Renault”, because they recognised that the former had nothing to do with the historic Team Lotus – but not being willing to note that by the precise same logic, if the team wasn’t “Lotus”, then it couldn’t be “Renault” either.

  6. Why the correct name, Kimi Räikkönen, is never used on this site?

    I’m expecting Lotus to score points steadily. Hopefully in some chaotic races they could even score some podium finishes!

    1. The UK keyboard doesnt allow for the spelling. We dont have it for the ä or ö

      1. meant to say “do not have a button for the ä or ö”

    2. Probably the same reason we don’t write Kobayashi-san’s name like this: 小林 可夢偉 , we don’t know the right shortcuts/have the right keys on our keyboards!


      1. There are ways to type ä, ö and other specal letters with UK keyboard as well. Alt + 0228 (from numeric keypad) should create “ä” and Alt + 0246 should create “ö”.

        It would be cool if Kobayashi would be typed as 小林 可夢偉 :D

    3. @huhhii An interesting question with a bit of a complicated answer.

      It doesn’t just go for Raikkonen, of course, there’s other names in F1 which demand non-standard characters such as the u with an umlaut in Nurburgring and Hulkenberg.

      I originally tried to use these for all spellings correctly and, strictly speaking, I should. But I have encountered a few problems.

      First, the difficulties of getting the spelling right and remembering the various keyboard combinations necessary to do them. (@sjm you might be interested to see this).

      Second, it has occasionally caused character corruption problems. Just this weekend I’ve had to fix some areas of the site which were broken because of this very problem on some five-year-old pages.

      Third, there’s the question of what to do with the quizzes. At present people have to type in their answers for some questions. It would make the whole exercise very complicated if I accepted various spellings (and close-but-not-quite mis-spellings) for Kimi Raikkonen and similar names.

      For the sake of simplicity – because I suspect most readers would not know all the necessary spellings – I use accent-free versions here.

      Yes, I know it isn’t strictly correct, but for these reasons I feel it’s a compromise worth making. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be persuaded to change it in future.

      1. Character corruption was actually the reason I suspected. Too bad, since to me Raikkonen sounds very awkward and wrong. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with my opinion.

        You explained your points well, so yeah, maybe this kind of compromise is the best option.
        Unless if the correct names and this compromise solution could be mixed: Like in articles etc. you could write “Kimi Raikkonen (Räikkönen)” or “Nurburgring (Nürburgring)”. If character corruption could be avoided one way or another, I’d see that kind of combination as a best solution.

      2. Thanks Keith, usually it can be done in MS Word by being able to select the needed letter and just Copy & Paste.

      3. I agree. I don’t write Pérez or Gutiérrez either, although those are much easier to spell.

  7. i think they could be like they were in 2010, with raikonnen hopefully giving similar performances as kubica was.

  8. Keith, 2 minor problems, 1 was mentioned above, the other isn’t.

    1) I think it would be more useful to treat Renault as “The Enstone team” rather than a Lotus.

    2) Even if you treat them as a Lotus, there’s a mistake in the graph, the results are skewed forward by a year. Look at 1979, it says they won 8 races when in fact that was in 1978 and in 1979 they won zero. It continues until 1988, it says that this was the last year Lotus won races when its last 2 wins were in 1987.

    1. I’ve noticed this too… there are some other mistakes as well, such as the team being listed as having won the Constructors’ Championship in 69, 71, 74 and 79, when in those years it was Matra, Tyrrell, McLaren and Ferrari respectively. The graph also doesn’t show the team’s constructors titles in 68, 70 and 72.

      1. I’ve tracked down the mistake – it’s in the 1968 season, where an additional season with no wins and a 10th place finish has been added. Delete this, move everything else back a year, and it all lines up.

    2. @montreal95

      1) See the answer I just wrote above to MahavirShah

      2) Fixed that, thanks!

  9. Anyone else noticed how Autosport are all over Lotus like a rash, they cant stop talking about them, writing about them.
    Seems to be a bit of brown nosing going on for some unknown reason? ;)

    1. @prekeel A lot of it is to do with Raikonnen coming back. Autosport probably find it more profitable to put together some sensationalist headlines to get you to buy their magazine/check their website rather than admit that testing is largely inconclusive.

      1. “14:07 We’re cautious about making too many predictions at this stage, but it’s fair to say we’d be feeling perky if we were in the Lotus garage at the moment.”

        Comments like this all day long, I thought they should be un-biased as a journalist group? Maybe I’m wrong!

    2. @preekel : Apparently they get a lot of attention on their website and twitter regarding Kimi and by extension Lotus. I followed the autosport commentary on their website as well for the tests and I also saw that Lotus was given a lot of attention in terms of updates and tyre/stint information.

  10. We all knows that Lotus can deliver but last year showed we all know how they can throw it away. Easily the most polar-opposite team of last year from two great podiums in Melbourne and Sepang to a disaster of a weekend in Singapore.

    Hopefully a more conventional approach will make for a better season for them. Given that this year they’ve not had to contend with their lead driver falling out of contention and now with a world champion filling one of the seats, on paper things look more promising.

    I wonder if we will continue to see the black and gold livery after this year? Arguably, their livery choice last year was more a stab at Tony Fernandes than anything like their own brand awareness. I like the look of the E20, but I’d like to think that they could truly bring Lotus into the 21st century with some race wins and their own Enstone livery.

    1. After all the trouble they’ve now gone to to bring the black & gold livery to all the other racing series they race in foe consistency, I doubt they’re gonn switch again quickly. They’re trying to build brand recognition across many racing series. You don’t do that by changing the livery every ten minutes. That said,it would be more appropriate now for them to be green & yellow, and for Caterham to create their own livery/legacy.

      1. @us_peter True. Never considered that to be honest.

  11. The logic that applies to linking the early Team Lotus results as well as the former Caterham team results to the Enstone team (“results by the team that’s entered as ‘Lotus’) would suggest that the “Lotus” of this graph doesn’t deserve credit for the four Stirling Moss/Rob Walker Racing Wins in 1960 and 1961, since the team wasn’t called Lotus.

  12. To not consider this the team that won the 2005/2006 championsips is strange.

    1. championships*

      1. toleman fan
        5th March 2012, 21:18

        It won the ’94 WDC and the ’95 championships too… ;)

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